There are less than three years left for the US's neo-conservative leaders – the current set of pro-Israeli decision-makers inWashington – to make their mark on history. They have had five years in power and the only rallying cry they have produced was 9/11.
After weeks of intense consultation, discussion and negotiation with other parties, Hamas leaders have nominated Ismail Haniyeh (pic), a powerful 43-year-old Hamas leader in the Ghazzah Strip, as prime minister. The decision resulted from internal deliberations over whether to choose a non-Hamas figure, who might be more acceptable to the West, to lead the next cabinet.
It would be naïve to miss the significance of the successive attacks on Islam and its sacred symbols: last year there were revelations about the desecration of the Qur'an at GuantanamoBay; then came the insulting caricatures of the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace. While the cartoon controversy still rages, we witness the deliberate destruction of the ImamAskari Mosque in Samarra, Iraq, taking the country even closer to sectarian warfare.
As we at Crescent and the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought prepare for the Kalim Siddiqui Memorial Conference to be held in London on April 23, it is remarkable how many echoes of his work we find in events unfolding around us.
Among the many consequences of Hamas' stunning victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections in late January is the final shattering of any illusions that the neo-conservative clique inWashington may have had about the benefits of democracy in the Muslim world.
Every time there is the prospect of significant political change in any Muslim country, however it is brought about, Muslims jump to the hope that Islamic movements may be able to take advantage of the situation to establish an Islamic state.
That president Husni Mubarak of Egypt has been planning for some time to ensure that he is succeeded by his 41-year-old son Jamal, when he eventually retires, has been clear enough to leave no one in any doubt. But recent local, regional and international events have caused him to throw caution to the winds and accelerate his plotting to ensure that Jamal will not face a credible challenge at the presidential elections in 2011.
Speaking in Algiers on February 12, at the beginning of a tour of North African countries designed to secure their support for the US's agendas in the Muslim world, US secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld promised to strengthen military ties with North African countries. During a joint appearance with Algeria's president, Abdulaziz Bouteflika, he said: "We look forward to strengthening our military-to-military relationship and our cooperation in counter-terrorism."
The controversy surrounding Denmark’s offensive cartoons refuses to die down. Demonstrations and protest rallies continue in various parts of the world, including Europe and North America, where Muslims reside as minorities. Some of the largest rallies took place in Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Pakistan.
Religious conflict between Nigerian Muslims and Christians is traditional, and the clashes between members of the two faiths which took place in late February are not a new phenomenon. What is new is that the clashes were set off by the cartoons recently published by Danish and other European newspapers that depicted the Prophet Muhammad (saw) in an extremely offensive manner.
All is not well in the "land of the pure": the "stans"—Baluchistan and Waziristan (both North and South)—are on fire; the dams' controversy has subsided somewhat, but has been replacedby the fury surrounding Europe's cartoons. The anger of the protests is also fuelled by the exorbitant prices of essential commodities, and Pakistan's opposition parties, sensing blood, are going for the jugular.
Since the conflict in Darfur began three years ago, about 180,000 people have died, mainly because of hunger and disease; about 2 million have been displaced. Clearly, the conflict is too vicious and costly to be allowed to continue, but the current efforts of the African Union (AU) to resolve it are not equal to the task. But the so-called international community cannot seriously be concerned about the fate of the people of Darfur or of Sudan as a whole.
The controversy resulting from Europe's insulting cartoons merely confirms what Muslims have always known: that there is deep animosity for Islam and Muslims within the Western establishment. It was to reflect on this and other matters that the conference “Peace and Justice in the Age of Imperialism” was organised on the occasion of the twenty-seventh anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran.
People all over the world held events on February 23 to remember the tragedy of the Chechen people, after the Save Chechnya Campaign, a support and advocacy body based in London, led a campaign to have February 23, the date of Stalin’s deportation of the Chencens to Central Asia in 1944, proclaimed as World Chechnya Day.
On April 23, Crescent International and the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought (ICIT) will hold a Kalim Siddiqui Memorial Conference in London to mark the tenth anniversary of the death of one of the Islamic movement’s modern giants. The theme of the conference will be The Islamic movement: between moderation and extremism. As part of our commemoration of Dr Kalim’s work, we are reprinting some of his major works. In this issue we reprint a paper he wrote in 1984, reflecting on the Islamic Revolution in Iran.